Happenstance Theater’s 4th Annual All-New Cabaret Macabre is an absolutely lovely show for this time of the year: a little spooky, a lot of whimsy, and plenty of morbid humor to keep you laughing throughout the evening of their brand new and fan favorite vaudeville sketches.
Drawing inspiration from the illustrator Edward Gorey, Victorian nightmares and popular music of the time, this marvelous ensemble explores the darker sides of human existence with just enough scrutiny to intrigue its audience, but orchestrated succinctly as to not dwell on the heavy stuff.
The show and its staging pays great tribute to the vaudeville revues and clowning routines of the early twentieth century, making use of a bare stage and wings, props, and live music to the greatest effect. It never feels dull or outdated though; this ensemble brings each moment and character to life with their near endless list of theater skills. Mark Jaster for example, the c0-Artistic Director of Happenstance and a consummate fool onstage (and I mean that in the best of all possible ways!), not only can sing and clown and have the most expressive eyebrows I may have ever seen, but also plays a saw like a concert virtuoso. But the list goes on from there!
4th Annual All New Cabaret Macabre
Closes November 10, 2013
1 hour, 15 minutes, no intermission
Thursdays thru Sundays
The crowning achievement of the night comes in the form of the “Croquet” sketch. Beginning innocently enough as a lovely Victorian game amongst some recurring characters throughout the show, the narrator serves to explain the basic premise and rules of the game. The most literal interpretation of these rules plunges the entire group into a brilliantly coordinated chaos that will definitely leave you in stitches. Grastorf, in her recurring character of the Maid, gets to seek some well-wrought vengeance on those that she had served throughout the show and is a joy to watch.
If you’re looking for something that is a bit off-key and fun with plenty of bits of theater magic to keep you guessing, than this is the perfect show for you. Imagine “Downtown Abbey” meets “The Nightmare before Christmas”, and you would be somewhat close to the madcap antics that the ensemble of Happenstance Theater brings to life in this show!
4th Annual All New Cabaret Macabre . Featuring Mark Jaster, Sabrina Mandell, Karen Hansen, Gwen Grastorf, Sarah Olmsted Thomas and Alex Vernon . Produced by Happenstance Theater . Reviewed by Michael R. Kelly.